Randy Weston - Tanjah (Afrojazz with Gnawa tinge, 1973)

(Polydor PD5055).

Entering Randy Weston spiritual world is a long story. Let's just have a glimpse at his special relation with the city of Tangier (Tanjah is local name).
After experiencing several african countries during the 60s, Randy Weston decided to move from New York to Africa. Tense politcal situation in Nigeria was cooling down his initial will to live in this english speaking country he already visited in 63 and 67. And finally, the great feedback and feeling he had during his 1967 concert in Morroco, additionnally to musical discovery of the Gnaoua, made him move there from the late 60s.

First based in Casablanca, he had then opportunity to experience Gnaoua culture (through his friend Maalem Abdullah El Gourde) and ended in Tangier opening in 1969 the African Rhythms Jazz Club, located  above Cinema Mauritania (see above pics). The building was made in the fifties and the inside kept old fashion stylish aspect despite crossing the decades. It now proposes indian or egyptian movies, but the club is closed since a long time. Initially part of Weston's target to open cultural centers all over Africa, the jazz club had the latest black records form the US, proposed workshops and allowed many musicians (from the US or Africa) to perform or jam with local gnaoua musicians.
With the same strong ambition of showing connections between Africa and the Diaspora, Randy Weston even organized a jazz festival in Tangier 1972. He succeeded in bringing musicians from the US: Pucho and the Latin Soul, Mandrill, Hubert Laws, Ahmed Abdul Malik, Max Roach's band (without Max Roach, for unidentified reason). Also Dexter Gordon and Kenny Drew came from France. Additionnally, local Gnawa or Jillalah brotherhood musicians, Berber flute players or drummers... They played together in various configurations, with sometimes up to 40 musicians jamming on stage, and they had jam afterwards at the African Rhythms Jazz Club. I guess the cultural aspect of the festival was a real succes (including cheap tickets sothat local people could attend), but unfortunately the financial aspect was a disaster (partly due to some official who finally did not gave any support despite their commitment). Randy had thus to go back to the US for these financial reasons.

So here's the track Tangier, recorded back in NY in 1973. It's arranged by Melba Liston for about 20 musicians including Ron Carter, Ahmed-Abdul Malik, Taiwo Yusve Divall, Candido. The music reflects the city of Tangier in many aspects, multiple influences crossroad, gateway between North Africa and Occident, and a strange feeling of enjoyable mysterious frenzy.

Randy Wesyon - Tanjah:
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African Rhythms Club Flyer.

Mauritania Cinema, Tangier.

Performance in Tangier (1970).

I warmly recommend "The Autobiography of Randy Weston" composed by Randy Weston and arranged by Willard Jenkins.